Former President Donald Trump seeks special master to review Mar-a-Lago documents

WASHINGTON– Attorneys for former President Donald Trump on Monday asked a federal judge to bar the FBI from further examining documents recovered from his Florida home earlier this month until a neutral special judge can be appointed.

Lawyers alleged in a court filing, their first since the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago two weeks ago, that the sets of documents taken from the home were “allegedly” covered by executive privilege.

“This matter has drawn the attention of the American public. Merely ‘reasonable’ safeguards are unacceptable when the matter at hand involves not only President Trump’s constitutional rights but also a presumption of executive privilege,” the attorneys wrote.

Separately, a federal judge on Monday conceded that redactions of an FBI affidavit setting out the basis for the search could be so extensive that the document would become “meaningless” if released to the public. But he said he still believes it shouldn’t remain completely sealed because of the “intense” public interest in the investigation.

A written order from US Judge Bruce Reinhart largely repeats what he said in court last week when he ordered the Justice Department to propose redacting of information in the affidavit it wants to keep secret. This fee is due on Thursday afternoon.

Justice Department officials have attempted to keep the entire document sealed, saying disclosing any part of it could jeopardize an ongoing criminal investigation, reveal information about witnesses and reveal investigative techniques. They advised the judge that the necessary redactions of the affidavit would be so numerous that they would strip the document of any essential information and render it virtually meaningless to the public.

Reinhart acknowledged that possibility in his order issued Monday, writing: “I cannot say at this time that partial redactions will be so extensive as to result in meaningless disclosure, but I can ultimately come to that conclusion after reading further.” heard information from the government.”

Several news organizations, including The Associated Press, have asked the judge to unseal additional records related to this month’s Mar-A-Lago search, as FBI officials said they had 11 sets of classified documents, including top secret records, seized from Florida property.

Of particular interest is the affidavit supporting the search, which is believed to contain important details about the Justice Department investigation into whether Trump kept and mishandled classified and sensitive government records. Trump and some of his supporters have also called for the document to be released in hopes it will expose what they say was government overstatement.

In his written order, Reinhart said the Justice Department has a compelling interest in preventing the release of the affidavit in its entirety. But he said he doesn’t think it should remain fully sealed and said he was unconvinced by the department’s arguments that the editorial process “is placing an undue drain on its resources”.

“Particularly given the intense public and historical interest in an unprecedented search of a former president’s residence, the administration has not yet demonstrated that these administrative concerns are sufficient to justify the sealing,” he wrote.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Former President Donald Trump seeks special master to review Mar-a-Lago documents

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